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Boiling water, pepper used in hazing, police say

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  • NEW: All 10 students face charges of aggravated second-degree battery
  • Two pledges treated for severe burns in Tulane fraternity hazing, police say
  • Pledges were doused with boiling water, hot pepper, vinegar, attorney says
  • Tulane suspends Pi Kappa Alpha chapter, promises investigation
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NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Ten fraternity members at Tulane University face criminal charges in an alleged hazing incident in which pledges were repeatedly burned with hot water, cayenne pepper and vinegar, police said.

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Tulane University has suspended the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter, a spokesman says.

Two pledges were treated at a hospital for severe burns resulting from the April 25 incident at the Pi Kappa Alpha house, authorities said.

Seven students made their first appearance in court Wednesday and were released on their own recognizance, said Dalton Saywoir Jr., spokesman for the Orleans Parish District Attorney's office. It was unclear whether the three remaining students had been arrested or surrendered to police.

The arrested students range in age from 20 to 22. All 10 students face charges of aggravated second-degree battery, New Orleans and Tulane police said in a statement.

New Orleans attorney Frank D'Amico Jr., who represents one of the two pledges severely burned, said it happened at a "Hell Night" ritual involving the 10-member pledge class.

"What they were doing was burning the young men," he said. Fraternity brothers were said to have used boiling water containing pepper spray and a "crab boil" seasoning mixture containing cayenne pepper. The water was poured on the pledges' backs, he said.

"The ones who screamed first didn't get burned as badly," he said. But as the evening wore on and the water grew hotter and hotter, the ones who had not screamed were severely burned.

D'Amico said his client, who was attending Tulane on scholarship, suffered second- and third-degree burns to his back, chest, buttocks and genitals. He is "bandaged up," D'Amico said, and must have twice-daily burn treatments. The young man is unable to travel or take his exams and is attempting to negotiate with Tulane on postponing them, he said.

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The young man is "obviously extremely traumatized," D'Amico said.

Tulane University has suspended the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter and will investigate the incident in accordance with its anti-hazing policy, school spokesman Michael Strecker said in a statement.

"The university has zero tolerance for any type of hazing or other incident which can potentially endanger the well-being of any student," the statement said. "Any fraternity member found to be in violation of the Student Code of Conduct will be held accountable."

Tulane is also cooperating with police, Strecker said.

"Such actions are nothing short of reprehensible, and are completely contrary to the mission, vision and purpose of our fraternity, if true," the fraternity said in a statement issued from its headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee.

"These types of actions represent a betrayal of our core values and the trust that the men who were hurt by these events placed in their fellow students."

But it said, "these injuries appear to be the result of a few unauthorized, misguided individuals and not the entire chapter."

The arrested students did not comment as they were led into a police vehicle while handcuffed, according to video footage from CNN affiliate WWL.

Pi Kappa Alpha headquarters did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

D'Amico said he is pleased that Tulane and law enforcement have taken swift action on the matter.

His client's parents sent their son to Tulane thinking he would be safe, he added, "and they boil [the pledges] alive."

CNN's Cristy Lenz contributed to this report.

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